Despite my life-long northern California residency, I've never had a good grasp on snow sports and so could rarely justify a winter trip into the mountains. Turns out, going downhill sideways with my feet strapped to a board is not my idea of fun...But, with so much open wilderness in El Dorado County just outside my hometown, I knew there must be something for outdoor adventurers other than speeding down mountainsides.
Recently, I had the opportunity to explore South Lake Tahoe during my weekend Instagram takeover for @visiteldorado, the El Dorado County Visitors' Authority. And after just one weekend, South Lake Tahoe proved to be the perfect place to find fun of all kinds in the snow covered Sierras.
I like hiking and figured snowshoeing would be pretty similar. It doesn't require a lot of extra gear, they're pretty affordable to rent, and when the sierras are covered in snow, there are so many hiking options. We took a quick hike up to the Angora Fire Lookout and used our handy snowshoes to explore along the ridge and take in views of Fallen Leaf Lake that aren't available from the trail. By the end of the trek, the extra weight of the snowshoes was noticeable, as were my very cold feet. If you're a first time snowshoer, come prepared with waterproof footwear!
Given my previous failures as a snowboarder, the cross-country skiing really made me nervous. Something about having my feet clipped into boards makes me uneasy. After gearing up with boots, skis, and poles, we set out along the groomed trails of the Camp Richardson campground. It took one full lap before my awkward shuffle-push-shuffle technique gave way to a more elegant glide and after a few successful elevation changes, I was hooked. I felt like I had gained a whole new skill and could finally feel comfortable among the South Lake Tahoe snowbirds.
Gear rental: Mountain Sports Center at Camp Richardson.
Being cold makes everyone hungry. Plus, all those snow sports really burn calories! The South Lake Tahoe food scene ranges from high end eateries to diner-style cafes and I was happy to see options in every price range. Our favorites from the weekend? Ernie's Coffee Shop for a hearty breakfast and Blue Angel Cafe for a cozy, delicious dinner by the fire.
We were lucky enough to score a room in the historic lodge at Camp Richardson. Inside the lodge, they've replaced TV with board games, books, and a giant fireplace perfect for carving out some quality time with your travel companions. The resort also has lakeside cabins if you're looking for a little more space. Bonus: it's a short and beautiful walk to the resident restaurant, The Beacon Bar & Grill, where you can eat, drink, and watch the sunset over the lake.